Wild Nothing at The Southern

July 10th, 2011 · 26 Comments · By

There’s a great show on tap at The Southern this evening. The beautiful poster above, by James Ford, tells you everything you need to know, but what the heck, I’ll elaborate.

Wild Nothing are here for another visit, though given their local roots, having originally formed at Virginia Tech, this is about as much of a hometown show as it gets. You may have caught them last time in February at Trinity, when they were here on tour with Abe Vigoda (the band, not the actor). Their most recent record is a gem, rooted in the same sort of lo-fi, hazy, lazy indie-rock as Real Estate or Kurt Vile, but with a tasteful dose of 80s pop, embracing synths and digital drum tracks to great effect. The sum of it all is an album that does a wonderful job conveying youthful, starry-eyed, summer-in-love nostalgia. But you don’t have to take my word for it since, among other things, it landed them on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2010, and received all sorts of other critical acclaim.

Opening up are two more rapidly rising area bands. One is C-ville’s Infinite Jets, an all-star lineup of rockers who are all veterans of other favorite local groups, including Matt Bierce and Drew Carroll trading off the songwriter role, with the capable backing of Scott Ritchie, Dave Stone, and Greg Sloan. If you like any of the other projects those guys have been in, you’ll dig this, too.

And leading off is Richmond’s Black Girls. This band really seems to have captured a lot of people’s attention rather quickly. It’s not surprising considering their diverse blend of sounds. There’s a little something there for everybody, whether it’s the bizarre R&B-ish falsetto vocal duo (think Isaac Brock, with a little soul), Strokes-like guitar lines, or a dancey rhythm section, they cover a lot of turf.

This one starts at 8:30PM, and it costs $10.

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26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James // Jul 10, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    thanks for the writeup, Jacob!

    I thought I’d take a quick second here to:

    1) gloat about the fact that when I wrote about them the last time they came to town, I was somehow able to magically trace Wild Nothing’s influences to one extremely specific song (I think I compared them to “C86-era Primal Scream,” and was shocked when their set list actually included a cover of the 1-minute-long Primal Scream song from the NME C86 compilation)

    2) clarify that I’m not all that enthusiastic about the name of the third band on the bill — while I’m largely indifferent to their music, I think naming your band “Black Girls” when all of the band members are in fact white boys is kind of a questionable decision; I’m fairly certain they’re just going for an “ironic” cheap laugh, but it’s a choice that strikes me as coming from a place of blind privilege. if anyone has a different take on it or wants to credibly defend them, please feel free to chime in in the comments below — but I certainly didn’t hear anything in their forgettable irony-rock to make me think there was more to it than some entitled kids not understanding or caring why that joke might be a bad idea.

    3) apologize for some sloppy layout on that poster lettering that’s sort of been bugging me the more I look at the scan of that poster… apparently even with my co-artist (Josephine Stewart)’s helpful type-rule running underneath the hand-letting, I’m still 100% incapable of making the lettering come out straight when I’m actually at Kinko’s with the x-acto blade and the scotch tape; yes folks, believe it or not, that actually IS the result my attempt to line things up correctly. Likewise I have no clue why I didn’t choose to either re-enlarge or right-justify the second word in each of those band names — somehow my drunken logic thought it fit into a larger aesthetic of 80’s goth notebook-cover doodle that I was really, really subtly trying to evoke. Overall I’m pretty happy with it though. For trainspotters out there, the blue face on the right is Anna Karina (taken from the excellent Godard bio I’m currently reading), while the pink girl on the left is from a cheapo late-60’s young-adult punksploitation photo-novella called “the Mods” which I bought from Ike’s Underground for a dollar (it was the same place I got the image for this poster)

  • 2 coogan // Jul 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    i thought “black girls” had changed their name? i second james’ distaste for the name choice, although there’s a sort of postmodern nagging that tells me i should like it because i shouldn’t like it? ahh, the trappings of a liberal arts background..

  • 3 Chris T // Jul 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Would the reaction akin to “Black Girls” be the same or different if a group of African-American punk rockers called themselves “White Girls” or “White Dudes”?

  • 4 adam brock // Jul 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    white people aren’t the perpetual victim of the incipient racism that has plagued this country for hundreds of years, so, no i don’t think it would be the same if some black punks called themselves white girls… plus there was already a movie called white girls…with the wayans bros….check it out.

  • 5 James // Jul 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Chris — nope. it’s because most white people have privileges that have unfortunately been denied to many black people, and most men have privileges that have unfortunately been denied to many women, and while obviously everyone’s personal circumstances are different and more complicated than that, it’s still kind of obnoxious when somebody places a label on themselves that indicates that they’re a member of a group that’s less privileged than they really are, when if fact they do not belong to that group and don’t have to suffer through things that a lot of people who ARE members of that group often have to put up with… especially if the only apparent reason to do so is that it seems kind of incongruously funny to people who are the beneficiaries of that privilege and might not necessarily be aware or care that other people might find what they’re doing problematic.

    I feel kind of silly spelling this out, but on the other hand it’s kind of amazing how many people DON’T get why things like this might be problematic.

    or, as Brock pointed out: when the Wayans brothers dress like white chicks, we just call that a “bad movie.” but when white people dress up as black people, we call that “blackface,” and it’s not exactly a thing that most people are very enthusiastic about, especially in the south. NOT that this band dresses in blackface or anything, but I find what they’re doing problematic for a lot of the same reasons, even if it’s to a much much (MUCH) lesser degree.

    again, this is entirely just my assumptions about this band based on the knowledge that a) the name of the band is “Black Girls” b) the members of the band all appear to be white and male (I thought there was a white girl in their band, but it turns out maybe she’s just their manager? she’s the only person associated with the band I’ve ever spoken with), and c) they’re a kind of goofy ironic party-rock band, and they seem much more like the sort of people who’d name themselves that because they think it’s funny than the sort of people who’d name themselves that to be transgressive for artistically valid reasons, or to open up a dialogue about that sort of name, or whatever.

    I don’t mean to sound like I’m on a crusade against this band or anything, and again — if there’s another take on this band name, or if my somewhat superficial impressions are totally incorrect, or if there’s more information available that might make it clearer that their band name is a valid and smart thing and not just a joke — then, well, I’d honestly love to hear about it.

  • 6 James // Jul 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    OK this is completely tangential, but while we’re on the subject of race and ironic party music and possible poor-decision-making, now might be perhaps an appropriate time to relate the tale of a party I once attended in college (actually it was more like just 12 kids getting wasted in a empty painting studio than a formal “party” of any sort) during which I witnessed an impromptu performance by a conceptual-joke “nazi rap group” called Swastikons (it was their first, last and only show.)

    this group was made up of two white dudes — one jew and one gentile, I believe — neither of whom were white supremacists by any stretch of the imagination… BUT both of whom took a certain glee in doing things that were totally upsetting and ridiculous and inappropriate and sometimes hilarious, in a way that you can sometimes “get away with” doing things like that when you are 20 and drunk out of your mind in the relative comfort of being in art school, whereas one might not necessarily be able to “get away with” such things out in the Real World. anyhow, they performed maybe two or three “songs” as this Nazi Rap duo — which is an idea which might certainly be hilarious if it was an Onion article or something, but which took on a whole different vibe when you’re actually seeing that joke performed, live and in person, as I’m sure you can imagine.

    anyhow, as a middle-class white boy who likes rap music and is not a nazi, I spent about 3 minutes feeling EXTREMELY uncomfortable…. until I remembered that all ~10 of my fellow audience members were all either african-americans or dark-skinned hispanics, and that apart from the performers I was pretty much the only WASP in the room (actually I think there was one other white guy there, and I’m pretty sure he was both jewish and gay), and so anyway I just decided fuck it, if my non-white friends were having a great time listening to this joke nazi rap group (and they certainly were — this party had both a keg AND a trampoline) then I certainly wasn’t going to spoil the fun by telling them they shouldn’t enjoy it, and that maybe it was just my turn to be the one feeling uncomfortable because of my race that particular evening, which was fine.

    So I wouldn’t necessarily say I had a “good time” at that show, but I will definitely say being in a room full of a dozen black dudes and mexican chicks who were all shouting a “sieg hiel” call-and-response (complete with arm-waiving — no, I did not join in) over a wu-tang instrumental is definitely not a thing I am likely to forget about any time soon, and is definitely on the list of culturally baffling experiences that on the whole makes me really grateful that I spent five years going to art school in southern California.

    um, that story has absolutely nothing to do with the band we were talking about, I just thought it was a good story.

  • 7 mattU // Jul 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    i think the jesus lizard is an offensive band name… we should be thinking of the children! political correctness is a must at a rock and roll show!

  • 8 James // Jul 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    if you think the Jesus Lizard is an offensive name, you may have to take that up with this lil’ fella

  • 9 Andy // Jul 11, 2011 at 2:13 am

    refreshing though not unexpected from this group to see a really spot-on discussion of race.

    i f-ing absolutely hate when i see one of those stupid chain emails spouting nonsense about what an outrage it would be if there were a white entertainment channel (when in fact just about all TV is the white entertainment channel), or a white pride parade, or a white history month (when in fact all history is white history), etc.

    it blows my mind that people can be so stupid and blind to exactly what james and adam are saying.

    the tea party crew and their “conservative” douchebag partners in crime currently operating under the political affiliation of “republicans” can cry and moan all they want about how they’re not racist fucktards, but i think it’s pretty clear to most people with half a brain that if an african-american hadn’t been elected in 2008, there would be no tea party.

    anyway, great show tonight – and a nice job on the poster. i kept a copy and had the band sign it and it’s going on the wall for sure!

  • 10 mattU // Jul 11, 2011 at 2:30 am

    james: i saw black girls a while back, don’t care for it… i know what the actual jesus lizard is… and seriously put woody allen to bed because terrence malick filmed a new flick and i want to see it on the big screen. listening to your show right now!

    i am against racism/sexism as much as is humanely possible, but naming a band with a controversial title is nothing new… the reason i commented is because i think that if you don’t like the band’s name then don’t go to the show (as i didn’t) and vote with your dollars… this is a white male speaking in solidarity with the ideas of chuck d, george jackson, angela davis, etc…

  • 11 mattU // Jul 11, 2011 at 3:00 am

    i’ve changed my mind… nailgun is right… i am cleaning out my record collection… never again will i hear lou reed sing: “and the colored girls go -doot-da-doot”… i will destroy all of pussy galore’s records…

    ps hummingbird: you totally played vincent gallo this evening oon the radio… he says heterosexist/racist things…

  • 12 gary // Jul 11, 2011 at 7:10 am

    well i want to know wat jacob thinks. jacob?

  • 13 coogan // Jul 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    i want to know wat gary thinks. gary?

  • 14 James // Jul 11, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    in response to Matt U –

    I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone needs to cleanse their record collection of anything unpalatable or disagreeable; if I got rid of every record I owned that had something on it that I found shocking, obnoxious, or politically incorrect, I probably wouldn’t have very many records left (I’m guessing the gangsta rap, old-timey gospel, and black metal sections would probably take the heaviest hits)

    likewise, it’s certainly a sad truth that a great many excellent musicians are by all accounts also horrible people — from Vincent Gallo and Lou Reed right on down to Ike Turner, Chet Baker, or the Rolling Stones. (and too many people over the years have taken this as license to believe that ALL artists, great or otherwise, should be allowed to act like assholes, which is certainly not the same thing.) I even think that sometimes the uncomfortable truth of a person’s disgusting behavior can actually ADD to the appreciation of their art; witness Lester Bangs’ decades-long struggle with Lou Reed the musician vs Lou Reed the person, or Vincent Gallo’s own ability to repeatedly present himself as a horrible individual who is only capable of showing compassion and tenderness in rare moments of total despair… and of course this is complicated by the distance art often allows, meaning it’s one thing to understand that the Stooges may not have been the nicest characters around from the safe vantage point of 2011, and quite another thing to actually have to deal firsthand with an obnoxious musician yourself.

    …I’m not suggesting the dudes in Black Girls are horrible people — probably just privileged, na├»ve, and not much caring whether they upset people or not — but my point is that I don’t think ignorant or careless decisions like that band name should be allowed to go undiscussed or unchallenged, especially when the folks doing that are, in the larger sense of the Commonwealth of VA, our peers. I think this stuff (meaning art, music etc in general) is all here to be wrestled with and argued about, not to be censored to banned.

    anyhow, I just thought it was appropriate to maybe mention that I had a lot of doubts about Black Girls’ band name, lest the fact that I made the poster for that be seen as a tacit endorsement (which I certainly understand that it might be — it was something I wrestled with, but ultimately I decided I wanted to do a poster for Andy & Jacob and thought it would be a small net gain for the Charlottesville music community in general)

    also, thanks for listening to the radio show! I’m always a little bit afraid there’s nobody up at 3am.

  • 15 James // Jul 11, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    oh, and just to talk work for a second (‘cuz Matt brought it up):

    >> and seriously put woody allen to bed because terrence malick filmed a new flick and i want to see it on the big screen.

    we definitely WILL be showing “Tree of Life,” but not until “Midnight in Paris” finished its’ run… which might not be for a while. it’s been a HUGE hit for us (significantly bigger than “Black Swan,” for instance), so it would be extremely foolish to get rid of it while it’s still raking in the crowds. believe me, I’m as anxious as the next guy to see the new Malick, but when we’ve got a rare summer hit like the newest Woody Allen, we need to hang on to it for as long as we can, to make sure we can continue to exist and show the equally-good movies that comparatively fewer people come to see during the rest of the year. (it’s worth noting that we’re NOT a non-profit, and while we all love cinema and want to show as many good movies as possible, we’ve gotta watch the bottom line at the same time). personally I feel it’s a shame that crowds of that size don’t come to see some of the other great films that we’ve had, and in fact some of the best ones seemed to slip under the radar entirely (“I am Love,” “Sin Nombre” and “Certified Copy” being the ones that stick out most in my mind).

  • 16 Chris T // Jul 12, 2011 at 12:23 am

    James, can you give me either a link or explain Lou Reed’s deplorable personality. Love his music, but I wanna read what makes him tick. Thanks. O, and Sin Nombre is awesome. Definitely one of those directors/auteur I want to follow.

  • 17 James // Jul 12, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Chris; for examples of Lou Reed’s infamously disagreeable nature, I’d hesitantly recommend:

    item A: Legs McNeils’ oral punk history “Please Kill Me,” in which every single person featured comes off like a HUGE asshole, and Lou Reed manages the impressive task of seeming to be the bitterest and most despicable of them all (it’s emphatically NOT a great musical history of punk, but if you’re interested in who caught what STD from whom / who snorted what off of which body part in NY 1965-1980 it’s… uh, indispensable, I guess). the prominently featured tale of a young creative punk ingenue arriving in the big city (c.73?) and spending an evening with Lou Reed, during which Reed insists vehemently and at length (completely seriously) that he will only even deign to speak to her if she consents to come back to his apartment and allow him to shit on her face, is a particularly memorable / illusion-shattering passage.

    item B: the aforementioned Lester Bangs series of interviews; can’t recall if they’re anthologized in “Psychotic Reactions” or “Blood Feasts” (it’s one of the two, but they’re both worthwhile Bangs tomes), but it’s a classic piece of music journalism: a smart critic wrestling with his changing perceptions of an evolving body of music, but also a juicy opportunity to witness two completely wasted smart-asses attempt to match wits over the better part of a decade (Lester usually comes out on top, not only because he’s the one doing the recounting, but also because he appears to be the only one of the two of them who gives a shit about Lou Reed’s music)

    item C: talk to any person who has ever had any interaction with Lou Reed — or even has a secondhand anecdote about him — and they will assure you his crotchety obnoxiousness is alive and well in the 21st C. ( I’m increasingly convinced that Laurie Anderson actually only married him as part of some sort of elaborate performance art project — the full nature of which may be revealed in time, or may ultimately remain known only to her… or maybe she was the only person remaining in Manhattan who would put up with him?)

  • 18 James // Jul 12, 2011 at 3:25 am

    that said, I love his music too. the first three VU records are essentially the Old Testament of the following 30+ years of worthwhile Rock & Roll, as far as I’m concerned…

  • 19 James // Jul 12, 2011 at 3:31 am

    also, you may be one of a grand total of perhaps three or four individuals nationwide who actually liked “Sin Nombre” — it got intensely harsh reviews, and was a flop with the audiences as well. I found it tremendously engrossing, gorgeously enthralling, both brilliant and upsetting — and I’ve also found that the few folks who have actually seen it rarely agree.

    Cory Fukunaga’s second film, the most recent take on “Jane Eyre,”fared FAR better, both commercially and critically, but maybe that’s because hitting a tried-and-true costume-drama out of the park may not actually be that difficult for a director who actually knows what they’re doing, aesthetically (see also: Joe Wright, or so I’m told)

  • 20 Matt B // Jul 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Sin Nombre was amazing. Why would it get trashed? Does the filmmaker engage in unpopular politics on the side or something?

    Also, the concert referenced in this thread was really fun. Thanks to everyone who came. And whatever you think of the name, Black Girls were a bunch of really nice (yes, white) guys.

  • 21 gary // Jul 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    still waiting on jacob over here

  • 22 Jacob // Jul 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I dunno, Gary. What do you think?

  • 23 Jacob // Jul 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Well, Gary? Gary?

  • 24 Jacob // Jul 12, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Hey, this actually reminds me of another discussion I’ve been having — what does everybody think of the name ‘Gary’? I mean, what is THAT, right? How are we supposed to take that exactly?! Haha! So crazy! It’s almost… what’s the word…

  • 25 NICO ESPECTACULAR! // Jul 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    What is that Lou Reed quote about music critics?
    “My minute is their month.”
    I think that’s it. So are Black Girls successful as a group because we are discussing them after their forgettable music has faded?
    I spoke with Vincent Gallo on the phone once (long random story), he asked what I wanted to do with my life.
    I said “Play music, make art.”
    to which Vincent Gallo replied, “The best piece of advice I can give you is ‘Don’t listen to your friends, they don’t know shit.'”
    Best band name I have seen in awhile is BALLS DEEP IN THE DEAD.
    What am I getting at?
    No idea, but Time Bandits is playing on TV right now.

  • 26 mattU // Jul 17, 2011 at 7:29 am

    james – i respect your opinion even though i disagree. now knowing you made the poster, i would say it wwould have definitely made an impact on my response. although, i still see think it is extremely pretentious to assume that black girls did not name their band to promote discussion when you asked for the discussion yourself. also: good luck with the theater and m.psychosis- i am leaving town in the next two weeks… hopefully big screen malick is in the cards…